WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME WELFARE POWER?

SHAMSUL GHANI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Apr 4 - 10, 20
11

Demand for a uniform education system, debate over medium of learning, moving of clocks forward and then backward, indecision over a 5-day or 6-day week, experimenting by allotting two examinees a single desk, nationalizing and then denationalizing educational institutions, all are feudalistic ploys to keep the masses busy and at a distance from the real issues.

We do not need a uniform education system, neither do we need to waste our time over the issue of medium of learning. The one qualifying from a public-sector national-language school can be as competent and brilliant as the one graduating under state-of-the-art private-sector education system. What is required is the up-gradation, revamping and fine-tuning of the public sector educational institutions. Inculcation of a sense of competition in the minds of students and respective faculties to outperform each other while following two different systems is the key to educational revolution. Sincerity with the pursuit of education and healthy competition among educational institutions as well as among various systems is really, what we need.

Pakistan, as a state, needs to change its image of a 'constantly warring nation'. Kashmir, Afghanistan, and now infighting promoted by domestic terrorism have sapped the country of its resources making its survival dependent on IMF and World Bank. The script has been written by the feudal elites who have not only become strong during all these 64 years but have also taken to diversification by inducting into their ranks the businessmen, the bureaucrats, the army generals and also the media big wigs. They toy with the idea of social reforms but none of them is sincere to change the system.

In a country where the announcement of exam results may take three months to one year or one year to any number of years, talking of educational reforms and expecting their implementation is a sheer waste of time and energy. There is one and only one sure way of defeating the feudal elite: make this country a welfare - not warfare - state.

No other nation than the Japanese has had a reason to exist and continue to exist as a warring nation. The US nuclear strike on Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people could have sown seeds of abiding hatred (against Americans) in the heart of Japanese nation. But, how that wonderful nation managed to gear up to become the first welfare state relying on the wellbeing and economic health of its people rather than committing itself to the self-defeating goal of vengeance, is now history. By shifting its focus from war and animus against Americans to economic and social sector development, Japan not only emerged as a leading world economy but also managed to effectively challenge its battlefield rival in the economic arena.

Niall Ferguson, in his book The Ascent of Money has described the Japanese transformation in the following words: "However, the world's first welfare superpower, the country that took the principle furthest and with the greatest success, was not Britain but Japan. Nothing illustrates more clearly than the Japanese experience the intimate links between the welfare state and warfare state.... .This certainly chimed with one of the objectives of the post-war American occupation, to replace a feudal economy by a welfare economy."

After rising from the ashes of World War II, Japan took its economy, by 1968, to number two position after the US. In 1970, a Japanese politician Nakagawa Yatsuhiro claimed that Japan had become The Welfare Super-Power as its system was different and better from Western models. He claimed that on the basis of welfare benefits, the actual income of a Japanese worker was far more than that of the American. Niall Ferguson summarizes the Japanese transformation in the following words: "Warfare had failed to make Japan Top Nation, but welfare was succeeding. The key turned out to be not a foreign empire, but a domestic safety net."

Pakistan has been following the 'warfare model' since its very inception - committing its resources not to the wellbeing of its people and economic development, but to the vague model of constructing a 'regional empire' by working on a dubious concept of strategic depth without realizing the fact that historically, Afghanistan - the nation partner in the 'strategic depth project' - had never been interested in the wellbeing of Pakistan. We have invested too much in this project and this is time to take 'stop loss' action. After becoming a nuclear power, we have no reason to raise the bogey of India's regional supremacy. We can always counter this move by further improving our economic and military ties with China. We cannot afford to neglect our social sector any more. Education and health are in a shabby state and need immediate diversion of resources from unproductive sectors.

EXPENDITURES ON DEFENSE AND EDUCATION BY SOME OF THE WORLD COUNTRIES

COUNTRY DEFENSE EXP. (2009) (BILLION $) DEFENSE EXP. AS % OF GDP RANK EXP. ON EDUCATION AS % OF GDP RANK
U.S. 663.255 4.3 1 5.7 37
China 98.800 2.0 3 Not reported -
U.K 69.271 2.5 4 5.3 46
Russia 61.000 3.5 6 3.8 88
Japan 46.859 0.9 8 3.6 93
India 36.600 2.6 11 4.1 81
S. Korea 27.130 2.8 12 4.2 78
Brazil 27.124 1.5 13 4.2 78
Canada 20.564 1.3 14 5.2 49
Australia 20.109 1.8 15 4.9 58
Turkey 19.009 2.2 17 3.7 91
Israel 14.309 7.0 8 7.5 17
Iran 9.174 2.7 25 4.9 58
Cuba Not Reported - - 18.7 1
Mexico 5.490 0.5 32 5.3 46
Indonesia 4.908 1.0 33 1.2 130
Thailand 4.908 1.5 34 5.2 49
Pakistan 4.823 2.6 36 1.8 136
Philippine 1.424 0.8 65 3.1 104
Bangladesh 0.938 1.0 75 2.4 119
Nepal 0.194 2.0 107 3.4 98

Average world expenditure on education is around 5 per cent of GDP. The Welfare Super Power Japan expends 3.6 per cent on education against a meager 0.9 per cent on defense. Cuba tops the ranking expending as much as 18.7 per cent of GDP on education. Pakistan's ranking in terms of expenditure on education is 136.

We ought to learn from Japan the art of leaving history behind and endeavor to become a welfare state instead of a warfare state. Our economic potential is beckoning us on to the road to progress. Japan's status of The Welfare Super Power is now threatened by its aging population. Pakistan's population has a dynamic age structure and when used productively under a generous social safety net, it can help to transform the nation into a Welfare Regional Power.

COMPARATIVE AGE STRUCTURE (PAKISTAN AND JAPAN)

COUNTRY POPULATION WITH
Age 0-14
POPULATION WITH
Age 15-64
POPULATION WITH
Age 65 & Above
Pakistan 37.2% 58.6% 4.2%
Japan 13.3% 64.1% 22.6%